Encouraging actions

Published 6:14 pm Wednesday, November 21, 2012

It was reassuring earlier this week to see the Washington City Council renew its commitments to reducing electric rates, cutting the annual transfer from the electric fund to the general fund and improving economic-development efforts by the city.
That renewal came during the council’s annual planning/goal-setting session.
In recent years, the council has talked a good game when it comes to improving the city’s fiscal picture. Has that talk produced in positive results?
“You’re ending the fiscal year in the black,” City Manager Josh Kay told the council Monday.
He was referring to fiscal year 2011-2012 that ended June 30. For the first time in several years, the city did not have to use fund-balance money to make up the difference between expenses and revenues during that fiscal year.
For those who want proof, that will come when the audit of that fiscal year is made public in the next several weeks, according to Kay.
The council also made it clear it will continue to reduce the amount of the annual transfer from the electric fund to the general fund until no transfer will be made at some point in the future. The council wants to reduce the annual transfer by at least $100,000 in each of the upcoming fiscal years.
Many Washington Electric Utilities customers who don’t live in the city object to transferring money from the electric fund to the general fund. They contend that at least part of the money they pay on their electric bills is used to subsidize city operations, services and programs.
City officials have said the challenge to reducing and eventually eliminating the transfer is finding another source of revenue to replace it in the general fund.
Although those same officials say that reducing the electric rate for residential WEU customers by 1 percent this fiscal year only amounts to $1 on a $100 electric bill, they intend to keep working at finding ways to reduce electric rates.
So at a time of thanksgiving, city residents and WEU customers may want to give thanks that the city is renewing its commitment to reducing electric rates, working toward eliminating the annual transfer from the electric fund to the general fund and trying to bring good-paying jobs into the city.